PRIVATE HERBERT MORRIS DAY 20th September 

On 20 September 1917, 17 year old Private Herbert Morris was blind folded and shot at dawn by 6 of his  countrymen and fellow soldiers.  Morris became one of the 309 British Army and Commonwealth soldiers executed for desertion and other capital offences during World War 1, all of whom were pardoned in 2006.

 

Annemie Morisse laying a wreath at the grave of Herbert Morris behalf of TNCMC.

A wreath was laid on his grave in Poperinghe Belgium, on behalf of TNCMC for the 4th consecutive year, by Annemie  Morisse at 10:00 BST. 2 minutes of silence were duly observed by many in UK. 

Herbert Morris left his home land Jamaica, aged 16, and joined the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) to fight for ‘Mother Country’ Britain:https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/lifestory/3131794
 
The day continued at the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) with an 11:00 ceremony led by Leon's Lasting Legacy, CIC Company of which ‘We Shall Tell Their Story’ is one of the initiatives lead by Director and Project Manager Sandra Patterson, who is also a Army Reservist. Six people were permitted to attend the celebration  at the NMA, including guest speakers Dr Josh Johnson MBE and Veteran Donald Campbell, Royal Air Force, Warrant Officer Retired.
 
This inaugural ceremony took place at the Shot at Dawn Memorial site, and included a programme of poems, parading of the British West Indies Standard, and laying of a wreath. Those in attendance were intrigued by the solemn dignified respect shown in memory of young  Herbert Morris.                                                       
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 We Shall Tell Their Story Programme

Organiser Sandra Patterson initiating the ceremony 

Organiser Sandra Patterson, her brother Wesley Patterson, his daughter Cassie, invited guests Dr Josh Johnson and RAF Veteran Donald Campbell participated in the ceremony.


Speaker Dr Josh Johnson who sponsored the Herbert Morris Post in 2001.

Dr Johnson recalled  initiating  the Shot at Dawn Memorial in 2001, via the Chronicle newspaper, seeking sponsorship for 2 of the 309 soldiers represented. Johnson was intrigued to note a fellow Jamaican countryman among those listedAfter completing requisite due diligence, Johnson successfully sponsored the Post representing Private Herbert Morris.  Nearly 20 years later, his deeds were amplified by the wonderful memorial celebration of this young man who died under such tragic circumstances. This story must now continue, annually, and indeed TNCMC should strive to have a National Herbert Morris Day in Britain.

 
Speaker Donald Campbell 
who served 36 years in the Royal Air Force

Donald Campbell recounted his RAF service  yearshaving enlisted at 18, a similar age to Herbert Morris.We must learn from the past and do our best to avoid any such acts of wars and terrors in the future” he told the gathering.

 

British West Indies Standard being Paraded   

Salute to Herbert Morris

Herbert Morris enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR), which formed in 1915, SeafordEssex England. It was therefore fitting to parade the BWIR Standard in salutation andrespect of his service.

Wreath laying by Donald Campbell & Dr Josh Johnson 

Cassie Patterson honouring Herbert Morris with his country flag

Cassie  Patterson played her part by placing a flag of Jamaica and a specially painted stone (Jamaica country colour) with the wreath at the post (No 200) of Private Herbert Morris. 

Post No 200 represents Private Herbert which is one of 309 posts that makeup the Shot at Dawn Memorial.

Visitors watching the ceremony being performed

Other visitors to the NMA, attending the Shot at Dawn Memorial, observed the ceremony and were intrigued by the meaning of the presentation being performed, which created a conversation about the history of the British West Indies Regiment and the story of Herbert Morris. 

Sandra
’s  initiative to  remember the life of Herbert Morris is truly stoic.  The event was originally scheduled  for Belgium with a larger group however plans changed  as a result COVID-19 and a reduced party attended the NMA to participate in this very important ceremony.

The day continued with a Sponsored Charity Walk, at 15:00, open to the public  nationwide. The walk was to raise funds for The National Caribbean Monument Charity (TNCMC) honouring British Caribbean Island. Servicemen and women for their contributions to Britain. 

 Walkers displaying their representative colours prior to the walk at Handsworth Park Birmingham

 

Walkers at West Park Wolverhampton 

Walkers in Lichfield

Individuals participated in the walk in Birmingham (Handsworth Park),  Wolverhampton (West Park) and Lichfield.  Many wore their Island and military colours in support of this initiative which will hopefully be bigger and better next year. 

The  day was celebratory and historic for many reasonsIt’s a date that should eternally recognise all who were executed in the 1st World War and also serve to remind that such acts should never be repeatedThe financial support and raised awareness of the planned National Caribbean Monument to be installed  in the NMA as a result of the day’s activities will help to ensure TNCMC forges ahead with its goal to deliver a  focal point  of  remembrance  and education of  the past, present and future for British/Caribbean nationals. 

Massive thanks to all who participated in making this day  success from beginning to end. 

Please donate to make this happen: GoFundme:http://shorturl.at/akCV1

Blog by Don Campbell 

Sep 2020